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Pope Francis accepts resignation of Bishop Lennon of Cleveland


  • Pope Benedict XVI greets Bishop Richard G. Lennon of Cleveland during a 2012 meeting at the Vatican. Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Lennon, who has headed the Ohio diocese since 2006. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)
  • Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of Toledo, Ohio, is pictured in a 2009 photo. Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Richard G. Lennon of Cleveland and named Bishop Thomas as the apostolic administrator of the diocese until the installation of a new bishop. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
  • Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of Toledo, Ohio, celebrates Mass Dec. 28 at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Cleveland. Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Richard G. Lennon of Cleveland and named Bishop Thomas as the apostolic administrator of the diocese until the installation of a new bishop. (CNS photo/Carol Kovach, Northeast Ohio Catholic)

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CLEVELAND (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Richard G. Lennon of Cleveland. He has headed the diocese since 2006.

Bishop Lennon, who turns 70 in March, said during a news conference at diocesan offices Dec. 28 that he had developed vascular dementia, leading to his decision to submit his resignation for health reasons to the pope in November.

"Recently it has come to my awareness that my health has declined to such an extent that I should resign as diocesan bishop," he said.

"Given the progressive nature of this illness," he added. "Pope Francis has accepted my request for an early retirement."

Normally, bishops do not turn in their resignation to the pope until they turn 75, as required by canon law.

The pope named Bishop Daniel E. Thomas of Toledo, Ohio, as the apostolic administrator of the diocese until the installation of a new bishop.

The changes were first announced in Washington early Dec. 28 by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop Thomas, 57, called Bishop Lennon's request for an early retirement "both a humble and courageous act, one that speaks volumes to his love for the local church and his desire that the people of God receive the pastoral care they need."

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